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Richard Kegler: Font Designer
Get to know a Buffalonian...
Richard Kegler - Font Designer
You probably don’t think about it often, but type is all around us and the variable shapes and styles of it has a profound influence on the way we look at the world. Kegler is president and a designer at Buffalo’s P22 Type Foundry, an influential design studio which has been crafting new styles of letters since 1994. In addition Kegler serves as the Executive Director of the Western New York Book Arts Collarborative, an organization devoted to the craft of book and print making. Currently they are soliciting funds to help transform a musty basement into a new screen printing and letterpress studio. For more information visit kickstarter.com/projects/565689766/in-the-basement-no-one-can-hear-you-screen.
What first led you to a career in type?
My goal was to not have a career in anything. The idea that I would know what I was doing for the rest of my life was not something that interested me. Type found me.
How have you found ways to express yourself through the construction of letters?
There is not much room to express oneself in letters aside from writing or printing with them, In designing them they still have to look like letters. You cant really change the communicative nature of what letters are. For example ‘P’ should always express a certain P-ness.
When you begin a new typeset, what is your approach? What are typically the most difficult or challenging letters to figure out?
Designing a typeface can start with many approaches. Depending on the style, the most challenging letter is probably the S. Individual letters are incidental, the key is to make the entire alphabet work as a system that can be combined in endless variation and still have harmony.
From where do you draw your inspiration? What are some of your favorite eras or styles (art deco, 40’s, Googie, modern, etc.) when it comes to commercial art and design?
All Over. The 1920’s in Germany and the U.S. were very fertile ground for some amazing work (then look what happened). If you could combine the attitude of the Dada anti-art movement and the hands-on productivity of the Arts and Crafts movement that might sum up where I’m often coming from.
What is the most creative or interesting application of one of your fonts that you’ve seen in the outside world?
I just heard that a font I helped design and program for Design Inquiry was used in a live poetry performance. The font changes its letters depending on contextual uses. We also have a font “Mystic” (digitized from a Ouija Board) that can answer any question you ask it. Really. No Really.
bonus: How does type influence the way we look at the world?
Ultimately letters are there to be read or to convey communication. Some styles can convey political overtones or have baggage that cause an emotional reaction. Some people can’t be in the same room as Comic Sans.
bonus: What are some of the downsides of type in the digital era?
The same as downsides to most media in the digital era: Piracy, ubiquity, overabundance and ultimately ambivalence. The worst downside is stretching type. Never. Stretch. Type.
bonus: So it’s cool if we print this Q&A in Comic Sans? My grandma loves that one.
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